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Byline: Jonathan Maze
Jul. 9--When the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce's annual Emerging 10 awards came out this year, the list included some well-known local firms such as Cambar Software, Smith Gerber McClure and General Engineering Labs.
While the local technology industry may be small, the companies on the list are indicative of its surprising diversity. One of the firms recycles old software. Another literally hides cellular antennas.
The responsibility for announcing the award winners -- and fostering a local technology culture in which they operate -- has rested on the Center for Technological Innovation.
Since its current focus was developed early last year, CTI has spent much of its time understanding the local technology community. Now that it has come to know these businesses, the agency is evolving again.
Philip M. Owens has replaced Alan Craig as director of business development at the chamber, which oversees CTI. Lisa Ryan, the former program manager, has taken over Craig's title as the agency's director.
The agency has a new voluntary chairman, Bobby Pearce, an attorney with Nelson Mullins who has an interest in technology but is a self-proclaimed "low-tech guy."
Most notably, CTI has changed its name to ThinkTEC, the name previously given to the agency's educational efforts. Officials think this name fits more with the agency's purpose.
"We want people to 'think tech,' " Owens said. "We want to be the high-tech contact for the region, and we want to inspire the local entreprenurial spirit."
Be it ThinkTEC or CTI, the agency must deal with the same challenges that hinder efforts to build a local technology base -- most notably the education system and the lack of capital.
Even with the …